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15 March 2006

The Consequences of Using Poor Judgment and Making Bad Choices: College paper's editor fired over Mohammed cartoons

Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Posted: 3:09 a.m. EST (08:09 GMT)

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (AP) -- An editor who chose to publish caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in the University of Illinois' student-run newspaper last month has been fired, the paper's publisher announced Tuesday. More...

Truthfully, I feel bad that this cost someone their job, but on the other hand, I'm certain that deep down he knew that this was the incorrect path for his publication to take. "Free speech" is not an excuse to further inflame 1.5 billion people. Why even go there? Why deliberately add fuel to the fire and try shield yourself with "freedom of speech", knowing full well that many have died during the course of violent protests? The events of the past many weeks are compelling enough reasons to refrain from re-publishing the cartoons. This isn't rocket science. It's a case of "good of the one versus good of the many".

Publishers, newspapers, anti-Muslim chest beating bigots: You're all out-numbered. Face it and act responsibly. -AT

Don't miss: Pete Blackwell rightfully throws European hypocrisy under the bus


metin said...

Just another simple-minded fellow who is looking for notoriety (and possibly financial freedom).

Murat Altinbasak said...

Sure, maybe a job at Rolling Stone or Maxim magazine is in his future! We can rule out a position for him at CAIR though, can't we... Coming up: more fluff journalism which will no doubt sympathize with his plight.

Anonymous said...

What if legitimate theological criticism of Islam inflamed people like the cartoons? What would you recommend to critics? Silence?

Murat Altinbasak said...

Silence?!?! No way, absolutely not. I am a critic myself! There's a difference between legitimate criticism and out-right dis-respect and ridicule of Islam's holiest messenger of G-d, dont you think?

Any and all faiths can be theologically criticised and proven completely wrong, in my view. Faith and fact should never be confused. Belief and knowledge should also be distinguished from eachother. No religion, to me is factual knowledge, it's all faithful belief.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a political cartoon linking terrorism and Islam "fair game?" You may or may not agree with it, but it's reasonable point of view given the unfortunate realities of our world. In other words, some of those cartoons were not intended simply to disrespect or humiliate Islam - they were making a statement.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of criticisms of Islam out there that have not caused riots. Only the representation of Mohammed in political cartoons has. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

YEAH... Why is That.. MURAT!

metin said...

mr. anonymous:

one has to understand and be well versed in the religion of islam to comprehend the answer to the question you pose.

we shouldn't judge islam by its followers and their unfortunate acts (of human error, and social and cultural upbringing). it's more a cultural and symbolic issue than anything else.

the true believers and followers of any religion know how to respect material belongings and human emotions of others (the opposite of fundamentalism).

different cultures have unique ways of showing their displeasure, probably not related to their religious ideals but mistakenly identified as.

metin said...

all rioters (related to the cartoon controversy) might be considered muslims but not all muslims are rioters.

there are plenty of western muslims who do not share the rioting philosophy.

maybe this would explain the rioting and anger mismanagement and violent behavior to be directly related to cultural upbringing of the eastern and middle eastern societies.

maybe we shouldn't blame the religion for the cause and effect.

maybe . . .

Murat Altinbasak said...

Metin, Anonymous Ones,

Thanks for weighing in...

"Fair game" you say... Remember the LA riots and Rodney King?

Why did this happen? It happened because of the media and the publicity which the story received.

Did it deserve such publicity, and even if it did, was it ever considered that if enough people were offended, that they would stand up and be heard, violently or otherwise?

The cartoons to me are not that offensive. What offended most Muslims is the blatant disrespect and deliberate abuse of freedom (speech and press).

The fact that most Muslims consider it blasphemous to depict Mohammed in any way shape or form, is enough inspiration for some protest. If said depictions disparage, disrespect or diminish Mohammed's image in any way, the insult is multiplied x1000. Put it in print and you can bet that the numbers multiply again by 1000.

This goes over the top when you compare it against the everyday criticism of Islam which is prevalent world-wide.

In addition, the association of Mohammed with bombs and killing (I refer to the turban cartoon) holds some truth, it exposes a weakness- one which no Muslim can deny with a straight face. This weakness was exploited and distributed by the many newspapers, to untold millions. The reactions of protesters which followed was fueled by anger, and in Psych 101 I was told that beneath all anger is.. hurt.

Adriane said...

Every time the 21% of the world population who are Muslim state: "We honor all of the Prophets, including Mohammed and Jesus" you are inflaming the sensibilities of

- the 2.5% of the world' population who are atheists as they believe there is no G_d for a prophet to communicate with...

- the 20.5% of the world' population who are Buddhist, Hindi, animists, or pagan, as they don't believe either Mohammed nor Jesus, talked to the G_d(s) that they believed in...

- the 33% of the world' population who are Christian, as they call Jesus, the Lord G_d, the Chosen One, and the Messiah, and do NOT think of him as a mere prophet.

Since, by your set of beliefs as stated in this blog, it is wrong to insult other people's religious faith, what are you going to do?

Are you going to ask your Mosque to fire any Imam who makes this derogatory statement? Censor any member of your Mosque who repeats it?

Are you going to ask CAIR to fire Ibrahim, aka Doug, Hooper? He and other American Muslims got on national TV after the 9-11 jihad and made this inflammatory remark.

I easily grant as a point of equivalence, that since you never called for the paper to fire their editor for his 1st amendment stance, then you have no responsibility to call for the firing of others.

But now that I have explained how utterly gut wrenching it is for 56% of the world's people to hear this, surely you personally, are going to be kind enough to refrain from saying this disrespectful comment from now on?

If no, why not?

And no, since you have demanded that others abrogate their freedom of speech to cede to your interpretation of your faith, you can not claim freedom of speech to justify the explaining of your faith when that explanation insults the faith of others.

Murat Altinbasak said...

You're comparing apples and oranges. Making such a statement is not the equivalent of creating a cartoon of Jesus with goat horns, split hooves and forked tongue- which is what was done to Mohamed's image, more or less.

If the firing was after all of the violent and deadly protests, then I agree with it.

Gut wrenching? I think your choice of words is a bit over the top.

I've never come out and indoctrinated my reader's about Jesus' place in Islam, but I don't consider it an insult serious enough to incite millions to march, protest and destroy property either, so the answer is indeed: no, but I don't have any interest in going there anyway.

Besides I think you're splitting hairs and making inappropriate comparisons: the remark of the CAIR folks versus the Mohammed cartoons? I don't see any parallel there. One is a benign statement of fact (explaining the place of Jesus in Islam), the other is an Islamophobic assault (the cartoons).

Besides, most non-Muslims openly dismiss and condemn Mohammed as a murderous deranged epyleptic pedophile who spread Islam with a sword. No one seems to protest this prevalent attitude though. That's because it's whispered between Christians and Jews, not published in newspapers...

metin said...

why don't we publish a cartoon showing Jesus molesting young boys at a catholic gathering....i use this example not with any disrespect but to point out the inflammatory nature of such acts.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between an "Islamophobic assualt" and legitimate criticism of the faith and its adherents?

Both should be protected speech (unless specifically calling for violence). And, there should be no violent response as a result from either. So, for me the difference is inconseqential - not to mentioned we could never agree on an appropriate dividing line in the first place.

Adriane said...

This is an apples-to-apples situation as both of us enjoy free speech and choose to implement it, non-violently, on the basis of our cherished beliefs. The fact that those cherished beliefs diverge and therefore, the form and content of that free speech also diverge is a secondary point, not the main issue.

If I were required to live my life according to both the dictates of my belief AND yours, I could not draw cartoons of Mohammed AND you could not speak about Jesus in any way other than the Lord G_d and Messiah, because you would be also obliged to live you life according to the dictates of your religion AND mine.

Since it is impossible to be a Muslim and a Christian simultaneously, this is not required of either of us in a free society.

Some Christian and Muslim specifics:
It is a tenet of the Christian faith to be wary of false prophets as they bring death and chaos.

If I believed that Mohammed was a true prophet, then I would be something other than Christian.

Since I believe him a false prophet, the representation of Mohammed, ala horns and cloven hooves, is fitting as a suggestion that he is in league with the devil to deceive Christians.

This graphic representation is just as a part of my right to free speech as the graphic representation of Jesus without a halo - signifying the Islamic belief in the lack of sainthood/divinity of Jesus - is part of yours.

The fact that you do not use graphic images as part of your religion is a voluntary abrogation of the freedom of speech on your part. The state does not demand it of you. There are no laws on the books that Muslims and Muslims alone of all Americans may not draw anything.

By not rioting when you see a picture a Mohammed drawn up like the devil, you are not stating agreement with that belief; anymore than if I walk past a Kerry For President sign without pulling it out of the ground, I am agreeing to vote for John Kerry. I walk past it without molesting it as I respect the right of other people to state their belief in his candidacy.

In excusing the rioting surrounding the cartoons, which you are doing on the grounds that people were "too hurt" to control themselves, you are demanding that all people agree with you on the representation of Mohammed.

Agreeing on the representation of Mohammed implies that I agree with you on the nature of Mohammed and his place in history and I do not.

The amount of death, rape, slavery, and the human misery and loss of learning that accompanies all the wars that either Mohammed or his followers are responsible for, over rules in my opinion any claims to divine inspiration that Mohammed and his followers may make about him.

That I choose to express that opinion graphically is my free speech. That you choose to express the opposite opinion non-graphically is your free speech, combined with your voluntarily acceptance of the prohibitions of your religion.

Anonymous said...

Well interpreted Adriane... I think Mr murat is lost for words..! I have witnessed time and time again the double standards of the muslim faith...!

Adriane said...

Metin -

The Sheaf, which is the student newspaper at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, chose not to publish the famous Mohammed cartoons “out of respect for Islam” on February 23.

In the March 2 edition, they publishing a cartoon of Jesus Christ having oral sex with a pig labeled, “Capitalist Piglet”. In the 2nd frame of the same cartoon, the pig tells Jesus that it's 'Kosher if he doesn’t swallow'. The 2nd frame is so drawn that the pig's ejaculate is seen dripping from Jesus’ mouth.

Christian Riots in Canada: 0.

Adriane said...

Murat -

You state If the firing was after all of the violent and deadly protests, then I agree with it.

Do you realize that this justifies violence?

You are telling me that I achieve either respect for the Christian point of view or public adherence to that point of view by non-Christians, by rioting.

Is this truly what you meant to say?

To me it implies that private and personal beliefs so fragile that they must be validated by public consensus. And while public consensus is comforting, it has no relationship to the truth.

Less than 50 years ago, 60 years ago?, public consensus was what is now called Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed by volcanic activity. The fact that it is now called Meteor Crater might be a clue as to how public consensus has changed.

The change of view is due solely to the private and personal beliefs of one man, Gene {Eugene M.} Shoemaker, and to his ability to make his case. BUT, the ability of Professor Levy to make his case, could not have happened without the American and scientific community’s respect for free speech, as he would have never had the platform in which to persuasively express his heretical idea without fear for his life, without it.

{Mohammed Al-Asadi, Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Observer, would like some of that goodwill right now, 'cause he's facing the death penalty for blasphemy and he condemned the cartoons.}

Heck, every time you go to an American hospital or emergency room – except for getting a vaccinations, we got that from you guys – you are heir to the complete disrespect of religion: because by Church Law and accepted custom of the people at the time, only the most base, most foul, burn-him-at-the-stake necromancer would disturb the bodies of the dead for anatomy lessons.

Whether publishing Mohammed with a bomb for a turban results in some miracle of science, heck if I know. That knowledge belongs to the future and neither you nor I live there.

What we do know: is that advancement of knowledge comes from pushing the envelope of hurt feelings – including hurt feelings about our understanding of geology or our religion. And we also know, that currently, there is no Islamic country that allows any discussion of Mohammed and his place in history, because historical research into the cultural and literary sources of the Koran, for example, contradict the belief as stated in the Koran that it is an eternal document, existing from the beginning of time.

The inability of researchers and historians to talk freely comes from the same riots that accompanied the cartoons. So yes, in defending the cartoons, I am defending the scoundrel. However, in doing so, I am also defending not only the scholar, I am defending everyman who would like to disagree with his neighbor without dying for it.

Adriane said...

Post Script To Murat -

You have framed the debate over the 9.2005 publication of cartoons by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten as an issue of Muslim hurt and you have yet to address the issue that Abu Laban, who traveled to several Islamic countries to talk about the 'pain of Denmark's Muslim community' apparently added several drawing to those published by the newspaper.

One of the added drawings turns out to be a poorly reproduced copy of AP's 15.8 photo of farmer Jacques Barrot competing in an annual French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise.

Another depicts Muhammad as a pedophile demon and the third has a praying Muslim being raped by a dog.

Tour spokesman Akhmad Akkari claimed he didn't know the origin of the three images, saying they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. But he rejected a request by another Danish newspaper, the Ekstra Bladet, to speak with the Muslim families who supposedly received them.

If we are going to discuss the freedom of speech vs. hurt feelings of Muslims, shouldn't we have a full disclosure of the circumstances in which Muslims were hurt?

Anonymous said...

WELL SAID and WELL DONE Adriane..! Your comments just made my day!

FANTASTIC... Mmmmm Still no response from Mr Metin or Mr Murat.... Dosn't surprise me...

metin said...

being able to interpret the written word is an art that few people master.

what i said was not to deny my distaste for the violent behavior by those who chose to make it a religious issue.

I believe it's more a cultural issue of the violence=getting things done nature of the upbringing of the middle eastern people of muslim background. why aren't the muslims in the western countries resorting to violence and instead choosing to offer diplomatic solutions to the problem they perceive.

and by the way, do i sense a hint of sarcasm and possibly inciteful behavior in some of the comments and commentors, or is this a forum where the issue at hand is intelligently debated not demanded/dared or ridiculed.

metin said...


By the way, out of respect for the humankind, I don't and wouldn't ridicule the Hindus for not eating beef or you for making God out of Jesus. I have respect for your beliefs just as my respect for the atheist and his right.

I expect the same from you as a matter of common courtesy and political or religious correctness.

Giving you the right to do something doesn't mean carte blanche endorsement of forcing you to do that something.

We can agree to disagree but we can't not be disrespectful even if you think Mohammed is the Devil.

There are plenty of devils for you to worry about within your own religion before you publicize your worriness over others' beliefs.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Adriane and co:

Ease up on the antagonism- been traveling for the past 12 hours! Later I'll address your points as best I can.

One thing: I'm not on a soapbox here, on this issue or this blog. I state my own personal perspectives, and not necessarily because I'm interested in being challenged. I like you guys and your sincerity and your kind demeanor and the fact that you are hearing me. Give me a chance to freshen up and put our toddler to bed. I'll be back. Many thanks.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Anonymous said:
What is the difference between an "Islamophobic assualt" and legitimate criticism of the faith and its adherents?

AT: The diff is that legitimate criticism excludes hate-mongering bigotry, and legitimate crit doesn't scream at 20% of the world: "hey, you suck".

Both should be protected speech (unless specifically calling for violence). And, there should be no violent response as a result from either. So, for me the difference is inconseqential - not to mentioned we could never agree on an appropriate dividing line in the first place.

AT: Both are protected free speech, obviously, or the cartoons couldn't be published. There should be no violence- agreed. When did I ever condone any violence? The diff is not inconsequential. Muslims consider it blasphemous to give G-d any gender or parent attributes, and blasphemous to consider Jesus as G-d's son. Do you hate me for stating the facts about a belief? Are you offended by Hindus who dismiss Jesus? What about Jews who do the same? Which is more vexing to Christians: that Jews dismiss Jesus entirely or that Muslims consider him a mere mortal messenger of G-d?

Murat Altinbasak said...

Adriane, apples to apples:

First off: Muslims believe that all people are born Muslims. What you call yourself in your adult life is your choice.

As for the rest, you make some very compelling and valid points, but you also put words in my mouth and miss my point in the process.

I was and still am, mortified by the protests. Get that to register please. I posted pictures of every riot in every country, as my way of mocking them...

This isn't about the cartoons themselves. It's about their willy-nilly publication and distribution, when it's pretty common knowledge that an untold number of fundamentalists exist, and that they will all be pretty fired up about it. There's freedom of speech, and there's also responsible freedom of speech.

"War of the Worlds" was broadcast on the radio long ago and it scared the wits out of many people. A poor analogy, but you're a smart person and you get my drift. It turned out to be a poor choice, didn't it?

Please read (search my blog) for previous posts about this cartoon business, before judging me as one who "excuses the riots", because that statement is way offsides.

Please also understand that I'm not a practising Muslim, and I do not have a mosque, which you or another previously suggested, as it related to firing someone for offending Christians.

On many levels, you're "preachin' to the choir" Adriane. I condemn all of the protests, but I also condemn those who published the cartoons equally, for they were not blind to the consequences. They knew it went way beyond "legitimate criticism", and that it was an "Islamophobic assault". They fired a shot over the bow and knew that it would invite a defensive counter-attack.

That's the wrong kind of freedom of speech.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Adriane post script:

The added cartoons- I know nothing about them or their origin, but I appreciate your informative descriptions. As to your question, Yes I agree on full disclosure, but I haven't researched this and probably won't. Feel free to explain what will change if we all know the nitty gritty.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Adriane to Metin, Sheaf:

The cartoon you describe might not have caused rioting on the street, so what's the point? Muslims are barbarians? We hear that day in and day out, who cares? I'll tell you this: the cartoon you describe offends me. Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet of Islam. And of course theydidn't publish the Mohamed cartoons. Who would after seeing the world-wide outrage? The last person to make that poor choice got fired, remember? Acting with full knowledge of cause/effect is irresponsible. AGAIN: don't miscontrue this to be in support of the protests. I'm merely saying that I avoid repeating the mistakes of others.

Murat Altinbasak said...


Do you realize that this justifies violence?

No, I realize that you have mis-understood me completely. Please read previous reply about "repeating mistakes".

Advancement of knowledge... (great ideas here, good job) Let me make my position on religion clear(er) to you: Faith does not equal fact, and belief does not equal knowledge. Furthermore:

The faith and beliefs of others deserve respect, but I prefer to limit my worship to knowledge. I think you have taken me for a Muslim with a scull-cap and the ubiquitous set of prayer beads in my hand! Please (re)read these posts and acknowledge that I am probably among the least qualified to be a spokesman for Muslims. The publication of the cartoons (not the cartoons themselves) was wrong, the violent and destructive protests were wrong, and any subsequent RE-publication is not only wrong, it's plain stupid:

I definitely appreciate your comments, Adriane, but even your very best arguments have not caused me to change my position. You have without any doubt forced me to see many other angles and I'm grateful.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Metin, your comparison between eastern and western Muslims hits the nail on the head. Other huge considerations which relates to the characteristics of the typical protestor: wealth (or poverty) and education (or illiteracy). THis may seem a generalization, but most protestors appeared to be cut from the same cloth: definitely not in the top ten percentile of the educated or the wealthy.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Metin on ridicule, common courtesy, political correctness and respect:

The most succinct and fog-clearing comment on this forum. I salute you!

Adriane said...

I apologize for putting words in your mouth. It was certainly not my intention. I will try to restate my point in away that avoid this: namely, when is it better to cut your loss vs. no candy in the checkout lane.

Wishing you safe travel, until then.